The village of Lopinot is well known for its rich history, picturesque sights and serene remoteness – the perfect environment for artist and sport enthusiast Mikaela Jodhan to work her creative magic.
The 24-year-old said while the instability of the wifi service in the village may not suit the average young person, it has actually worked in her favour, allowing her the time to develop a talent she discovered when she was five, and monetise her brand, MikaelaJ Art. The hobby was transformed into a full-time business in 2020 after Jodhan was laid off from her job at a company that made sporting uniforms.
“Lopinot is a really nice place to live although the cell phone reception is crappy and wifi access is horrible. It’s always so quiet and peaceful. I would sit by my table and draw all day, sometimes for eight to ten hours. I still don’t have wifi at home,” because different service providers somehow cannot get a steady signal to her home, which is located a little distance from the road and opposite the Lopinot recreational facility.
“They keep saying the house is too far from the road.”
And although this makes it difficult for her to manage the social media pages she has created to promote her artwork, Jodhan said she makes do with wifi from her aunt who lives nearby.
Jodhan has very little formal training in art and told WMN when she started drawing she did just black and white pieces. Two years ago she started experimenting with coloured pencils and decided to stick with it.
“It took me a long time to call myself an artist. I did basic art at El Dorado East Secondary, but the work I do is mainly from watching YouTube videos and getting information from other websites.”
Jodhan said after secondary school she was offered a partial scholarship to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Atlanta, Georgia but couldn’t afford to pay the difference not covered by the scholarship.
Instead, she enrolled in the University of Trinidad and Tobago and will graduate in November with a degree in education.
“Because of my general love for sports, I decided to pursue this degree to learn about many different types of sports and so I can become a physical education teacher.” But, she said, SCAD is not completely off the table. “I still want to go to SCAD someday.”
Jodhan does mainly portraits, but she said she also experiments with small landscape pieces, anime and even animal drawings. Her focus is mainly realism, but she said she is also inspired by fantasy and surrealism.
“It’s just a matter of finding the time to try it.”
Using Prismacolor and Faber-Castell colour pencils, she is able to draw faces on paper.
“The wax-based finish of Prismacolor pencils allows effortless blending, which is what gives my work its smooth appearance and causes many people to think that it's painted. But I don’t paint. It is not my strong point.”
But as much as she loves and is comfortable with the medium she uses, she said that too has its challenges, as filling big spaces using coloured pencils can be difficult.
“I'm currently exploring new and more effective ways to fill such large areas, such as markers and pastels.”
Jodhan said she is usually commissioned to do two to three pieces every month, and depending on the size and the complexity, each could take several weeks.
“Large drawings, especially if I have to do jewellery and hands, take a longer time because jewellery and hands are complicated.”
Added to that, she said, her workspace is very small, which takes a toll on her neck and back when she has to work for ten to 15 hours with just short breaks in between.
“But I am looking into getting a bigger table because it has become necessary. I want to get a drafting table, which will be easier on my neck.”
And when she’s not working her magic in her studio, Jodhan’s mind is centred on her other love – sports.
“I like a lot of different sports – volleyball, netball, cricket. I tried golf and I love it. I actually want to try baseball next.”
She grew up in a cricket family and it was only natural that she gravitated to it.
“My dad, grandma and aunt played cricket, so I started playing windball cricket in primary school and continued all through secondary school.”
She only started playing hardball cricket when manager for Hibiscus Women’s Cricket Club, June Bowen invited her to join the team.
“It was a difficult transition from windball to hardball. From cross batting in windball cricket to straight bat in hardball. To break the cross habit and play straight, was not easy. I still struggle with it today.”
She played with the team for four years, and in 2016, when she was 18, Jodhan went up for national trials for the Under-19 team.
“I made the team and played in the Under-19 regional tournament that year in Trinidad and Tobago. It was amazing. I was able to showcase my best game with wicket-taking performances, also achieving player of the match against Guyana. That tournament earned my spot in the national senior women's trials where I have been active ever since. After being on trial for several years I was able to make the senior team for the first time in 2019. Since then I have just been training hard, but at home because of the pandemic.”
Jodhan considers herself an all-rounder, but she said bowling is her strong point. Now a member of Technocrats WCC Jodhan said she can’t see her life without cricket and hopes to one day make the West Indies Women’s squad.
“But I don’t want to limit myself to just that. I want to aim for other things,” which she said will always include sports and art.
Follow Mikaela Jodhan on Instagram @mikaelaj_art_29, Facebook @MikaelaJ Art and on YouTube on MikaelaJ Art